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12-08-2007, 04:03 PM   #1
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K10d Autofocus Tracking

Hi everyone,
I've been following the forum for some time and have gained a lot of knowledge, so first off thanks for a great forum. I've done my research and plan on purchasing K10d paired with either the Tamron 18-250 or Tamron 17-50 for starters. My one reservation is Pentax's supposed below par performance with autofocus tracking of moving subjects. A lot of my photos will be taken outdoors in relatively good light with moving subjects. Should this be a concern for me? A deal breaker? I'm interested in hearing from folks who have hands-on experience with the camera under these conditions. Are there certain camera settings that can be made to optimize the camera's focus tracking performance; AFs vs. AFc, center focus vs letting the camera choose, etc.?
Workingdog

12-08-2007, 08:10 PM   #2
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Pathetic

The continuous AF of any Pentax DSLR is pathetic, and so does the tracking ability over frames. If you have handled a Nikon or Canon upper level DSLR side by side, the huge difference can be seen.

What make things worse is the unable-to-keep-up C-AF will slow down the continuous shooting frame rate significantly when the camera is waiting for the AF.

Besides the slow and non-intelligent C-AF, the Pentax AF system is particularly insensitive and sluggish at lower light conditions, which makes even AF Single mode less useful and reliable under such condition. The worst thing is that for all Pentax DSLRs I have used, including the K10D, will never give accurate focus but Front Focusing under tungsten light, which is ususally the light source at low light.

As for your question on which focus point the camera will choose, the user can choose whether the central single focus point is used or let the camera to choose amongst the eleven points, no difference from Single AF mode. This design is very different from what Canon do, though. In continuous AF mode of Canon DSLRs and if multi AF points are activated, tracking shall always be started from the central point and the camera will track the moving subjects when they are moving out of the central frame.

In fact, if you activate all the 11 focus points and put the camera in AF-C mode, it is actually rather sluggish to be usable, for the K10D. If you compare with the Canon design in making the central point as the first tracking point in the beginning, you can see why Pentax's design can be even much more sluggish when all AF points are activated - it is actually impossible to have all the 11 points activated and doing the measurements at the *same* time at the beginning of the measurement.

Anyway, in short, even only the central single AF sensor is selected and only one frame is taken, the AF-C function of the K10D is still sub-par, as you mentioned. It will never fast and accurate enough to track fast moving subjects, especially for those randomly moving ones and/or towards or away from the camera.


QuoteOriginally posted by Workingdog Quote
Hi everyone,
I've been following the forum for some time and have gained a lot of knowledge, so first off thanks for a great forum. I've done my research and plan on purchasing K10d paired with either the Tamron 18-250 or Tamron 17-50 for starters. My one reservation is Pentax's supposed below par performance with autofocus tracking of moving subjects. A lot of my photos will be taken outdoors in relatively good light with moving subjects. Should this be a concern for me? A deal breaker? I'm interested in hearing from folks who have hands-on experience with the camera under these conditions. Are there certain camera settings that can be made to optimize the camera's focus tracking performance; AFs vs. AFc, center focus vs letting the camera choose, etc.?
Workingdog
12-08-2007, 08:24 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Workingdog Quote
Hi everyone,
I've been following the forum for some time and have gained a lot of knowledge, so first off thanks for a great forum. I've done my research and plan on purchasing K10d paired with either the Tamron 18-250 or Tamron 17-50 for starters. My one reservation is Pentax's supposed below par performance with autofocus tracking of moving subjects. A lot of my photos will be taken outdoors in relatively good light with moving subjects. Should this be a concern for me? A deal breaker? I'm interested in hearing from folks who have hands-on experience with the camera under these conditions. Are there certain camera settings that can be made to optimize the camera's focus tracking performance; AFs vs. AFc, center focus vs letting the camera choose, etc.?
Workingdog
Workingdog, welcome to the forum. I use the K10d for photographing elementary and middle school aged sports events and have found the camera to be very capable and up to the job. The best settings for me are selecting the center focus point and puting the camera in AFc mode. Assuming you are photographing similarly paced "moving subjects" you should find the camera well suited for your needs. Here is a link to many photographs I made at a school sports event this past spring using the K10 and the DA 50-200. Erl Houston : photos : Field Day 2007- powered by SmugMug
I hope this helps answer your questions.
PS: I do not think the Tamron 17-50 is available in the Pentax mount. A sigma 18-50 is, however.

Last edited by Wethphotography; 12-08-2007 at 08:26 PM. Reason: PS:
12-08-2007, 08:25 PM   #4
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Mostly crap. Yeah, if you are comparing it to much higher end Canons and Nikons, maybe. But not really any worse than anything else in it's own range, and far from useless. What types of things you plan to use it for? I've been shooting kids soccer games with it with no issues at all wtih regards to the AF that weren't my own fault to begin with.

12-08-2007, 08:52 PM   #5
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BTW, here's a few links showing it in action with a Sigma 70-300:

http://www.dslreports.com/r0/download/1190850~14acc7d289e41a8da8a77cba8a8be6...copy%20web.jpg

Re: Thinking of trading my lens - dslreports.com
12-08-2007, 09:09 PM   #6
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If you've been reading the forums for awhile (and welcome BTW) then I hope you've learned to ignore Rice Highs comments. He only pops in to threads where he sees an opportunity to crap on Pentax. He couldn't shoot a photo if his mother's life depended on it no matter what the brand or system.

So I'd agree with Wethphotography's comments and add that you should check out Tom Lusk's shots in the following threads:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/search.php?searchid=243358
and here:
PENTAX Photo Gallery

He shoots a lot of what you are describing and does a fabulous job of it. What it takes is practice and knowing your equipment. It may not perform as well as a $5000.00 Mark III but it will do as well as or better than any camera in the price category.

There are others as well that have shot Hockey, cars and so on with great success.
Check out some of Gaelen's thread with the fastest subject most of us will encounter and he does a great job with it.
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/search.php?searchid=243382

Last edited by Peter Zack; 12-09-2007 at 09:07 AM.
12-08-2007, 09:15 PM   #7
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I've really changed my mind about the tracking capability of the K10d. While it isn't perfect in every situation, what actually made it work for me was turning on all focus points, as recommended in one of the forums. If you can lock on a target, then it will keep it in focus. Center focus AF-C is frustration itself.
12-09-2007, 08:46 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Matt_K1000D Quote
I've really changed my mind about the tracking capability of the K10d. While it isn't perfect in every situation, what actually made it work for me was turning on all focus points, as recommended in one of the forums. If you can lock on a target, then it will keep it in focus. Center focus AF-C is frustration itself.

When using all focus points, can you select which focus point to use initially?

12-09-2007, 08:58 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wethphotography Quote
Workingdog, welcome to the forum. I use the K10d for photographing elementary and middle school aged sports events and have found the camera to be very capable and up to the job. The best settings for me are selecting the center focus point and puting the camera in AFc mode. Assuming you are photographing similarly paced "moving subjects" you should find the camera well suited for your needs. Here is a link to many photographs I made at a school sports event this past spring using the K10 and the DA 50-200. Erl Houston : photos : Field Day 2007- powered by SmugMug
I hope this helps answer your questions.
PS: I do not think the Tamron 17-50 is available in the Pentax mount. A sigma 18-50 is, however.
Erl -

Some incredible shots, nicely done. This is exactly the kind of information/feedback I'm looking for before buying into Pentax. I'm sold with the glass, some beautiful examples throughout the forum, just need to gain some confidence with the K10d's ability to track in autofocus modes...

Thanks
12-09-2007, 09:02 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Workingdog Quote
Hi everyone,
I've been following the forum for some time and have gained a lot of knowledge, so first off thanks for a great forum. I've done my research and plan on purchasing K10d paired with either the Tamron 18-250 or Tamron 17-50 for starters. My one reservation is Pentax's supposed below par performance with autofocus tracking of moving subjects. A lot of my photos will be taken outdoors in relatively good light with moving subjects. Should this be a concern for me? A deal breaker? I'm interested in hearing from folks who have hands-on experience with the camera under these conditions. Are there certain camera settings that can be made to optimize the camera's focus tracking performance; AFs vs. AFc, center focus vs letting the camera choose, etc.?
Workingdog

I have only one thing to say...it's your first post and it is unfortunate ricehigh was the first to respond. You can search the posts he has participated by going through his profile and make up your own mind. You click on his name and choose the 'find more posts by ricehigh' from the drop down menu...you'll be glad you did
12-09-2007, 09:07 AM   #11
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Thank You!!

Thanks for all of the responses so far, very informative. One of the reasons (although not the main one) for choosing the K10d is its current almost unbelievable price point. I wouldn't expect it to perform as well as a camera that is 3x the price, but from what I've seen and read it comes pretty darn close. The photo links were great and I would be thrilled to get results like these. BTW as my screen name implies, I'll be taking lots of photos for my club at working dog competitions and training. That means dogs running, jumping, climbing, and getting the bad guy, lots of action! I'm looking forward to posting photos and learning/improving form comments received on this forum. Thanks again.
Workingdog
12-09-2007, 09:14 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Workingdog Quote
Hi everyone,
I've been following the forum for some time and have gained a lot of knowledge, so first off thanks for a great forum. I've done my research and plan on purchasing K10d paired with either the Tamron 18-250 or Tamron 17-50 for starters. My one reservation is Pentax's supposed below par performance with autofocus tracking of moving subjects. A lot of my photos will be taken outdoors in relatively good light with moving subjects. Should this be a concern for me? A deal breaker? I'm interested in hearing from folks who have hands-on experience with the camera under these conditions. Are there certain camera settings that can be made to optimize the camera's focus tracking performance; AFs vs. AFc, center focus vs letting the camera choose, etc.?
Workingdog
Hey Workingdog, welcome to the forum. While I can't comment on the K10D (don't own one, YET), I've been using an *ist DS for about 2 years (I can only asume the K10D is better) and my main action use has been at the car races. I've been using both Pentax DA lenses and Sigma AF lenses and, once I figured out how to actually use continuous AF, I've had little to no problems keeping up with the cars. Great fun!! Great camera!! You'll be VERY pleased!!
12-09-2007, 09:31 AM   #13
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Working Dog, There's one other thing that's not been mentioned here. That's trap focus. If you have the right lens (an older K mount or M42 screwmount with the adapter) you can prefocus the shot at a certain spot if you know the path the subject will move through.

Leave the AF-S on, hold the shutter down and the camera will fire when the dog comes into focus at that spot. Works best with a tripod and you do have to manually meter before firing the shot. It's pretty cool and with some practice, a good technique. The added bonus is these older lenses don't cost as much!
12-09-2007, 09:36 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote
Working Dog, There's one other thing that's not been mentioned here. That's trap focus. If you have the right lens (an older K mount or M42 screwmount with the adapter) you can prefocus the shot at a certain spot if you know the path the subject will move through.

Leave the AF-S on, hold the shutter down and the camera will fire when the dog comes into focus at that spot. Works best with a tripod and you do have to manually meter before firing the shot. It's pretty cool and with some practice, a good technique. The added bonus is these older lenses don't cost as much!
I will second the motion on snap-in-focus. It is worth having MF lenses for just this function alone.

An example in your working dog case would be to focus carefully on a jump obstacle, then raise the camera focus point a bit. The camera will only use the center focus point with MF lenses, so that is the one you use. Stand there with the cable release or Remote in your hand, and when a dog gets close to that point hold down the release until you hear the shutter fire. You will be absolutely amazed at the accuracy of this technique. My best humming bird images were taken 20 years ago with an SF-1 using this technique.
12-10-2007, 04:50 AM   #15
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Wow, learned something new. I'll have to keep that technique in mind.
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